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Airbnb upgrades service for hosts and guests

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Airbnb has introduced more than 100 upgrades to refine and improve every aspect of its service, from the platform’s website and app to community support and policies.

Although the changes apply globally, in Thailand the Airbnb 2021 Release will add features to give guests more flexibility when planning their travel and to make it easier for anyone in Thailand to become a host.

The updates come as Airbnb data reveals that Thais are turning to Airbnb for affordable and convenient family-friendly travel, and using income earned through hosting to stay afloat and fight costs of living during the pandemic.

  • Findings from a recent YouGov survey shows that travel with immediate family is the #1 reason for domestic travel amongst Thais, with nature retreats and quick getaways between 1-3 days likely to gain traction this year.

  • Notably, a survey conducted by Airbnb of Thai guests and Hosts in 2020 revealed that the top two reasons why guests choose to stay with Airbnb are convenient location and affordability.

  • In the same survey, a third of Airbnb Stays Hosts said the money earned through Airbnb provided an important additional source of revenue for them. 80% of Thai Experience Hosts considered hosting an experience to be their primary occupation, with the income made from hosting making up approximately a third of their total household income.

“We are seeing three fundamental shifts in travel as people become less tethered and more flexible,” said Brian Chesky, Co-Founder and CEO of Airbnb. “People can travel anytime, they are traveling to more places and they are staying longer. We believe the lines between living, working and traveling are blurring and, with this major upgrade, we are making it easier for people to integrate travel into their lives and for new Hosts to add even more homes for guests to choose from.”

100+ Upgrades Across Entire Airbnb Experience for Guests and Hosts

Airbnb has introduced three new ways to search the platform - Flexible Dates, Flexible Matching and Flexible Destinations.

Flexible Dates, which Airbnb started rolling out in February, makes it easy to find the best places to stay if you are flexible on when you go. Rather than searching with fixed dates, you can search for a weekend getaway, a week-long vacation or even a month-long stay.

Flexible Matching offers a wider selection of listing results when you search for a place to stay by surfacing homes just outside of the search parameters. For example, a beach villa in Phuket that costs THB3,200 per night, rather than the THB3,000 max setting in your search.

Flexible Destinations is a new way to plan trips when finding an unique place to stay is more important than traveling to a specific destination. For instance, it surfaces forest lodges in Thailand, ryokans in Japan, or castles in Spain. From treehouses to boats, on Airbnb you have over 170,000 unique homes to choose from and the number of searches for unique listings has grown 94% so far in 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.

Airbnb has also added new filters that will adapt to the season or location and allow people to search for homes near points of interest, such as national parks, or with very specific attributes such as whether the property has an ocean view.

Additional upgrades for guests include:

- Faster Checkout Process: Airbnb has reduced the number of steps for new guests to confirm their first reservation.

- Arrival Guide: Easy access to all the helpful information a guest needs (directions, door codes, Wifi, etc.) before check-in.

- Updated Reviews: Guests now have a fuller spectrum, from critiques to compliments, to rate their stay.

- Clearer Cancellations: Refreshed cancellation policies increase clarity for both guests and Hosts.

Becoming a Host

Airbnb has set up a brand new onboarding process that has been simplified from dozens of steps to just 10, supported by the latest technologies.

Computer vision deep-learning models automatically suggest photo arrangement based on their guest appeal, while smart text suggestions help hosts craft the best title and description for their listing.

Streamlining and simplifying the process will help anyone who wants to host and take advantage of the coming travel surge onboard quickly to get their first booking.

In fact, in Q1 2021, for new listings that were activated and booked, 50% received a reservation request within four days of activation.

In Thailand, over a third (38%) of local hosts actively reinvested their earnings from hosting to spruce up and improve their homes, as they look forward to hosting more domestic guests in the long term.

Additional upgrades for Hosts include:

- All-New Today Tab: A new centralized home base to make it easier for hosts to manage bookings and daily tasks. Here they will see new booking requests, upcoming reservations as well as details of current guests and quick links to the most used host tools.

- New Welcome to Hosting Page: A redesigned hub for new hosts with helpful articles and testimonials as well as an improved tool to estimate potential earnings from hosting based on nightly rates and occupancy in their immediate area.

- Inbox Improvements: Messages now load up to 10 times faster and new features include Personalized Quick Replies which let hosts reply with one tap to guests’ often-asked questions, and Scheduled Messages which automates sending reminders, like checkout instructions.

- Dedicated Superhost Support: A dedicated support team for Superhosts and Host Community Leaders giving the most experienced hosts priority access to the most experienced support agents.

Airbnb has also committed to improving community support by doubling the number of support agents and expanding support coverage from 11 to 42 languages, and a completely redesigned Help Center will be easier to navigate by offering more personalized support to hosts and guests.

Many of these upgrades were inspired by a comprehensive analysis of Airbnb booking data and consumer research which reveals the extent to which the pandemic has fundamentally changed travel. With 4 million hosts across more than 220 countries and regions and more than 900 million guest arrivals, Airbnb is in an unique position to see how travel is changing. The analysis reveals three key trends:

  • In part due to remote work trends, people are less tethered and more flexible on when they can travel. Since the start of this year, Airbnb has seen more than 200 million date-flexible searches, 100 million of which used the new Flexible Dates tool.

  • Travel is being distributed to a much wider range of destinations. In the 12 months ending 30 April 2021, Airbnb had bookings in 94,000 cities.

  • People are staying longer on trips. The share of stays 28 days or longer on Airbnb has increased from 14% of nights booked in 2019 to 24% in Q1 2021.
© Travel News Asia

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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